Per Se, one of New York’s best and most expensive restaurants, settled a wage violation case with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for $500,000.
A Department of Labor investigation revealed that Per Se was keeping the 20% service charge it charged customers. The surcharges, considered a “gratuity” under the law, should have been paid to the waiters and waitresses. Instead, the money was funneled back to Per Se restaurant operations. Section 169(d) of New York Labor Law states that employers cannot keep “any part of the gratuities, received by an employee, or retain any part of a gratuity or of any charge purported to be a gratuity for an employee.”
Per Se called the violation an “unintentional oversight.” The restaurant stated: “Our employees were never short-changed and no monies intended for employees were withheld. The Attorney General’s office own findings state that the charge was used in part to pay Per Se’s workers their industry- leading wages- a waiter at Per Se, for example, including overtime and gratuities, makes approximately $116,000 a year.”